RGGI supporters say initiative creates jobs, furthers national security interests

A group of environmental, business, national security, and health advocates urged the Christie administration Thursday to reconsider pulling out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Environmental groups such as Environment New Jersey, as well as representatives from Princeton Air Conditioning, the Truman National Security Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council requested the administration to stay with RGGI.

The administration announced Thursday – as State Street Wire had reported Wednesday – that it would leave RGGI, claiming that the 10-state project was not working as intended.

Luis Martinez of the Defense Council said he had been involved with the RGGI effort since 2004. He said they were disappointed in the governor’s announcement.

“There have been efforts by the fossil fuel industry to attack states” that are fighting for cleaner energy and to reduce emissions.  “Those efforts failed in Maine, New Hampshire,’’ he said, “but they found fertile ground here in New Jersey.’’

RGGI, he said, has yielded a policy that will create jobs, lead to clean energy and reduce costs.

Scott Needham, president of Princeton Air Conditioning, attested to the jobs aspect.

His company was able to add 14 full-time workers (it has 53 employees total), and he said a lot of that is due to energy-efficient programs.

He said the Environmental Protection Agency recently honored 53 companies nationwide with its 2010 Century Award. Twelve of those companies are in New Jersey, including his, honored for retrofitting more than 100 homes last year.

He said RGGI is about more than just pure dollars and cents. It is about better indoor air quality, increased comfort, and more sustainable buildings.

“If I were in Christie’s shoes,’’ he said, “I would look at RGGI as one of those investments I would continue to fund.’’

There are also security-related reasons to stick with RGGI, according to former U.S. Army Capt. Mike Breen of the policy group National Security Project.

He said that a major source of Taliban funding are private donations from people in the Gulf states “who made a fortune selling us oil.’’

“A fraction of every dollar (spent on oil) puts bullets in the magazines of weapons used by terrorists,’’ said Breen, who served in Afghanistan.

He urged the governor to get in touch with experts at the Pentagon, which has declared climate change a threat-multiplier, and then come back and explain to N.J. residents “why he is disregarding all of their advice.’’



RGGI supporters say initiative creates jobs, furthers national security interests